Is 2021 going to be your year?
Of course it is! We are surrounded by opportunity. Every year is what you make it. Define success on your terms — not anyone else’s — and make it happen.
This is my favorite week of the year. I plan this week off every year. Some years more successfully than others. Sometimes I have a few straggling client tasks to complete. Mostly, I use it for space clearing in my head, and planning the year ahead. Just like how our planner is a 90-day (12-week) content planner, I plan my everything in 12-week cycles. I find it keeps me more on task, energized, and organized than annual goals. I am re-reading the 12 Week Year right now, too, to help me improve my methods and results.
Last week in Fresh Squeezed, I shared the questions I was asking myself to reflect on 2020 (see my answers here). Yes, I know, a crazy year… but also plenty of good things happened too, there were lots of lessons learned, gratitude to feel and express, and insights to be gained.
Before diving into planning your first 90 days of content for the new year, I encourage you to take a few minutes to review this past year as objectively as you can. Use my questions as a guide, and you can use my Marketing Check-up post and worksheets to get a good look at the state of your marketing and identify where to put your focus.
It’s so tempting to declare huge audacious goals and content plans every new year — but they need to be realistic.
Kim and I were recent guests of Jeff Lerner’s youtube show Millionaire Secrets and one of the golden nuggets that came up was the concept of strategic, consistent, and prolific. I think strategic and consistent are far more important than prolific. Set yourself up to succeed by planning realistically.
Here are 5 tips to consider when planning your content strategy for the next 90 days.
1) Document your plans.
Statistically, those who document their strategy achieve greater results. Probably because they think it through and look at it periodically to stay on track. This is one of the things I love about the 12 Week Year system. You document and focus on twelve week (90 day) goals (just like our planner), weekly planning (just like our planner), and daily actions (just like our planner), and of course tracking results (just like our planner).
One of the things not included in our Content Creators Planner, which we are contemplating adding, is measuring outputs, not only outcomes. If you are completing your daily and weekly tasks, the outcomes/results will likely follow. If they don’t, you can assess why and adjust your activities. If you are not completing your tasks, your chances of good outcomes are pretty close to zero.
2) Goals Setting
In the past, I have set and focused on far too many at once, and set myself up for failure. I’ve been researching this quite a bit and one of the approaches I really like is inspired by a webinar I watched by Ryan Deiss. Consider your customer journey and assess how you are doing in each area. You may have holes in your journey where you are lacking, or you may have everything in place but you see opportunities for improvement.
In any 90-day period (12 weeks), he suggests focusing on one part of the customer journey and plan 3 projects. Then plan your weekly and daily tasks and what outputs and outcomes you will measure.
I don’t 100% agree about only focusing on one part of the journey, but I do agree about not setting too many goals or projects. Three goals or projects is likely a good target number. You have to be realistic about what you and your team can accomplish.
3) Monitor and Measure
You must decide up front what outputs and outcomes you will measure weekly, monthly and for the 90-day period. Don’t beat yourself up if you are not hitting your numbers , but figure out why this is the case. Is your plan overzealous (mine usually is)? Or are you simply not doing the work? Or are you doing the work but the results are lackluster? Knowing what the problems are provides the insight to determine what you need to focus on.
As creators, we all talk a lot about creating content and not much about promoting it. I don’t know about you, but I spend a lot of time crafting my content. I am fast at many things, but not content. Very often, once it is done, I click publish, maybe include it in an email and share it to social media. I might use so-schedule to add a few more social shares and honestly, I move on to the next thing. This is a HUGE miss. It should look something more like this:
- 2000 word Blog post
- Consider creating audio and/or video version of it to expand reach
- Share via email newsletters (2 of them)
- Post to FB shortened version (long form) linking to full
- Post to LinkedIn shortened version (long form) linking to full
- Repost to Medium (and possibly Linkedin)
- Microcontent: pull out quotes, snippets/callouts, images, stats, etc. for additional social post highlights
- If evergreen, sse Coschedule Requeue (or similar) to add any of these social posts to Evergreen group to repost throughout the year
We are currently planning a content promotion course to teach exactly how we should all be reusing, repurposing and recycling content to get the absolute most mileage we can from it. Stay tuned for more on that.
5) Idea generation
There are lots of ways to generate ideas. Keeping track of them is as important as having them! I keep an Evernote note of all my ideas and I refer to it frequently.
Here are a few of my favorites methods for coming up with content ideas:
- 10×10 matrix: 10 broad content topics and 10 sub-topics for each. Consider what stage of the customer journey you will create them for and what format of content is best for each idea.
- Hubspot Ideas Generator
- Answer the Public
- Neil Patel’s How to Generate 100 Content Ideas in 60 Seconds
Want more hands-on help as you prepare yourself for a bold new year ahead? Check out our Content Marketing Accelerator happening Jan. 8-9, 2021.
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